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Council urged to do its bit to cut school electricity bills

run-on-sun-logo-313 Solar School

Schools across Hampshire could be earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a year if Hampshire County Council helps them to install solar panels, Friends of the Earth urged today (13th October 2014).

A freedom of information request by the environment charity revealed that Hampshire’s 530 schools spent a whopping £5.7million on electricity in 2013-14. (Portsmouth’s 60 schools spent  £677,582 on electricity in 2013-14. Southampton’s 74 schools spent £1million on electricity in 2013-14).

But Friends of the Earth calculates that by installing solar power Hampshire County council could offset this by around £4.2million a year, 74% of their electricity bill, leaving more money to spend on playgrounds, libraries and school trips. (Portsmouth Council could offset this by around £480,000 a year, 71% of their electricity bill. Southampton could offset this by around £592,000 a year, 57% of their electricity bill)

The cost of solar power has fallen rapidly over recent years yet many schools still struggle to afford the upfront costs of installation. Friends of the Earth says there are ways to overcome this – such as through loans, co-operatives and rental schemes – and it is calling on Hampshire County Council to help.

Sue Holt, Havant Friends of the Earth campaigner said:

“I’m shocked by how much schools are paying for their electricity and through no fault of their own – many just aren’t aware of the alternatives.”

“Solar provides a real opportunity for each school to offset their electricity bill by up to £8,000 a year and to pump money back into education – but they need a bit of help to get going.”

“To save schools money, tackle climate change and generate local jobs, Hampshire County Council should follow the lead of Bradford, Plymouth and Southampton Councils by promoting the benefits of solar power and investing in solar schemes for schools. We support Southampton City Council’s programme to install solar panels on public buildings and we’d like to see more councils taking a pro-active approach.”

Friends of the Earth is running a competition for primary schools, to win a set of solar panels. The environment charity wants people to nominate their children’s school, their old school, or the school down their road to take part.



Notes to editor

1) 50kWp solar panels can allow each school to offset their electricity bill by £8,000 each per year. If all 530 of Hampshire County Council’s schools installed 50kWp solar panels, this works out as around £4.2million per year. This money would come from reductions in bills from using solar rather than grid electricity, Feed-in Tariff payments, and an export tariff when selling excess electricity to the grid. See:

2) Friends of the Earth’s Run on Sun campaign aims to make it easier for schools to install solar panels and save thousands of pounds through clean energy. We are calling on the Government to allow schools to borrow finance to invest in solar power. Schools are the first step in making better use of clean energy all over the UK.

3) Primary schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland can enter Friends of the Earth’s competition to win solar panels. Entries are to be submitted online only, as photographs, film, or slideshows. They will be showcased in a gallery on Friends of the Earth’s website. Competition closes 15 December 2014. Anyone can nominate a school to take part in the competition. Nominations close 24 October 2014. Friends of the Earth welcomes donations to help crowd-fund solar panels for the winning school, and to help make it easier for many more schools to run on sun in future.

4) Southampton has 19 schools with solar panels already and is looking to roll this out further. Data provided by Ian Davies Project Manager, Strategy & Capital Programme Team, Southampton City Council


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